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Competition Gets Tougher for Entry Level Accounting Jobs

Long are gone those days when obtaining an accounting degree was enough to get you a decent entry level job in public accounting or in industry accounting. Nowadays, it is not enough to simply earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting, but you also need good grades (over 3.0) and some level of accounting internship experience. You see, in recent years the number of undergraduate business students majoring in accounting has reached unprecedented levels. For instance, at some institutions like Louisiana State University (LSU), the demand is so high that only sophomores averaging 3.0 or better are accepted into the undergraduate accounting concentration. More and more business students have come to realize that an accounting degree offers more versatility than most of the other business related concentrations. As universities confer an ever growing number of accounting degrees, public accounting firms become more selective in their choice of recruits.

Nowadays, most public accounting firms, if not all of them, are going after job candidates that have either obtained their CPA license or that are eligible to give the CPA examination. This is the reason why more and more college students are entering accounting graduate programs so they can fulfill the 150 credit hour requirement for the CPA examination. For those who are able to obtain a master of science in accounting, the likelihood that they will get an offer right after graduation is very high. This is because the average entering class for a master in accounting program is about 50. Basically, if employers visit your campus, they will most certainly give priority consideration to graduate students over undergraduate students. Please understand that getting into an accounting masters program is not an end in itself but more of a lubricant improving your chances of obtaining a job offer. Indeed, you still have to take it upon yourself to embellish your resume, to network with members of the accounting profession, and to polish your job interview skills.

Because admission to accounting graduate programs is steadily becoming selective with universities requiring above average GMAT scores and academic records, you should not be surprised to experience some difficulties in getting into top accounting programs. However, don’t let all of that discourage you, there are a lot of graduate schools out there that have reasonable admission standards. As I was researching graduate level accounting programs this past summer,  I stumbled upon a great book entitled: Peterson’s MBA programs 2009. Although it says MBA in the title, this books offers a comprehensive overview of all the business related masters offered at almost every institution in the US  and abroad. Before you dash to your favorite bookstore or online retailer, I would suggest that you check with your campus library or/and your local public library first. With this book, you will be able to narrow your graduate programs choices down to the schools where you will be considered a competitive applicant.

Although job growth in the accounting profession is not due to stall anytime soon, obtaining an entry level job in the accounting industry is getting harder by the annual commencement ceremonies.  As you enter your senior year or as you get ready the complete your bachelor’s degree, it is paramount that you carefully evaluate your chances of receiving a job offer upon graduation.  For most of you out there, your job prospects will likely be nonexistent which is why I strongly recommend that you consider applying to graduate school to increase your chances of starting a career in accounting. As I write this post, I am going through the application process to get admitted in a MS Accounting program for Fall 2010.  In time, you will know which school I have decided to attend.


One Comment

  1. Comment by S.C.:

    This a a well-written post. I think the amount of accounting majors says something about the demand for the position out of school; that being said, it certainly is beneficial to acquire a master's degree. Here at Stone Carlie we strive to find the best qualified entry-level candidates and understand how tough it can be to find a position right out of school. Great post!


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